Friday, February 7, 2014
Half Baked Ham
Many of you may have witnessed the recent debate between science enthusiast Bill Nye and young earth creationist Ken Ham, the subject of the debate was "Is creation a viable model of origins"? First up was Ham with his half hour segment, this was honestly difficult to get through and you could see Bill Nye trying not to explode in the background. When Bill did his presentation it was a great series of scientific explanations debunking almost everything Ken was claiming, but Bill could have gone further in challenging the underlying structure of Ken's blatant logical fallacies. Watch the debate here for yourself:
I'm going to pick apart Ken Ham's argument and demonstrate how it crumbles under sustained logical assault; Without sound reasoning and clarity of thought, we will be dragged down by philosophies like young earth creationism and pseudoscience which seek to exploit weaknesses in the structure of the human mind.
One of the main points that Ken Ham stated over and over was the idea that there are two sciences, historical science and observational science, it cannot be stated strongly enough that this is blatantly false. This is one of the weakest points of Ken's arguments and Bill should have more thoroughly exploited it, but he let Ken get away with laying this falsehood as a foundation of the debate.
The falsehood of this so called split in science, and Ken's insistence that we can't get evidence from the past is most obvious when he goes on to state that the bible is true, one might wonder how this is not considered taking the bible as evidence, but i guess Ken never thought to apply his ideas to himself. So rock or ice core samples with let me stress this layers that are clearly defined as summer and winter, can't be considered evidence because "you weren't there", but a book is? Well i hate to break it to you Ken, but YOU weren't there when the bible was written either!
So forward into the appeals to authority! Ken loves these, i think he said the words "let me introduce you to a scientist, he is also a young earth creationist" five or six times followed by a myspace selfie style introductory shot of the scientist in question. The point is, it doesn't matter how many people he drags up onto the stage, science is not a democracy, nor do the personal beliefs of scientists matter, only the evidence matters.
Another big one that Ham should have been destroyed for is "Kind" of animals. This is a blatantly meaningless concept, that's right, it should have been called out directly as meaningless, by letting Ken say it without being challenged Bill once again lets Ham frame the debate.
Kind is an arbitrary sorting of animals based on human observations of similarities, but bares no connection to genetic evidence of common ancestry. Even the label of individual species is somewhat arbitrary and is really based on the capability to interbreed and produce fertile offspring, the idea of an overarching categorical basis for something like "kind" is laughable in view of this loose definition of even individual species.
Ken also made statements about experiments involving dog breeders that proved some of his intuition about "Kind". Hey dipshit, dogs are all one species.
Ultimately, Bill Nye is a great thinker and can present science in an interesting and accessible way, but against a lying scumbag wordtwister like Ken Ham, his strait forward honest approach falls a little short. I have been seeing people saying that these debates are bad for the cause of logic and science and just give legitimacy to con artists, but i think that publicly challenging these people is all that can be done, maybe more emphasis could be put on destroying bad logical positions rather than simply laying out counter factual arguments, this could do more to undermine troll's who feel like they can get up on stage and frame the debate.
Ultimately free thinking skepticism must triumph, otherwise how can we hope to unlock societies potential for innovation? With so much at stake in the world, can we really afford these old guard sort of mentalities that would hold onto a world view such as creationism because it is of traditional value? To live in a better future, we must cultivate a situation where people feel free to publicly challenge ideas and speak out about issues that are important for humanity.